How to build an inexpensive film washer

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by Max Power, Mar 2, 2005.

  1. Max Power

    Max Power Member

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    Hi all,
    I just finished building a very inexpensive film washer and thought that I would share my idea with you.

    This all came about after I cracked my Paterson tank and went to SS. The Paterson had an excellent washing system, but I'm not convinced that just sticking a hose into a SS tank does a thorough job. I was looking for an inexpensive solution to a very simple problem (I don't think that it is worth $40 on eBay to buy a film washer :D).

    Here's the stuff you will need:
    1. A 12'' length of 4'' PVC drain (or whatever length your heart desires for the number of reels you want to wash at one time).
    2. A rubber or PVC cap for the length of drain.
    3. A length of garden hose
    4. A gardena type hose coupling
    5. A 1/2'' ID to 5/8'' OD plastic plumbing coupling
    6. Some contact cement or ABS plumbing cement
    7. A spare SS reel or other object to lift the reels off of the bottom of the tube.

    1. Take the PVC drain and cut it to your length
    2. Taking the height of your cap into consideration, drill a 5/8'' hole at the point where your plumbing coupling will enter.
    3. Put some ABS cement or contact cement onto the 5/8'' end of the coupling and insert it into the hole. Bolt on the nylon nut on the other side.
    4. Cut your garden hose to the desired length and strip the outer layer and the reinforcing string off of about a 1'' length (you want just the rubber interior sleeve).
    5. Attach the stripped end of the garden hose to the exterior 1/2'' ID end of the coupler.
    6. Attach the Gardena coupler to the other end of the garden hose.
    7. Your project is now complete, just give the ABS a bit of time to set and you're off!

    I hope that someone else will find this useful!

    Kent
     
  2. mark

    mark Member

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    Cool. Thanks for posting the information.
     
  3. Max Power

    Max Power Member

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    PS,
    I used a Paterson reel, expanded to 120 size in the bottom so Paterson reels do fit into a 4'' PVC pipe.

    If anyone needs any clarifications, just let me know and I will be happy to post them.

    Cheers,
    Kent
     
  4. eric

    eric Member

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    THIS is really cool. I love "McGyverisms". How does it drain? From the top?
     
  5. rjr

    rjr Member

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    Kent,

    may I ask - why?

    The Agfa/Ilford Wash sequence is proven to be archival, it´s cheap (no gear needed but the tank you develop your film in) and saves a lot of water (5x0,5l vs 4l/min for 10min!).

    Here is an article dealing with that method, including some tests regarding the proper function:

    http://www.largeformatphotography.info/unicolor/ilfwash.pdf
     
  6. titrisol

    titrisol Member

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    Roman, you beat me to post the same! I use 6 changes of water + photo-flo.

    But I guess this can make sense if you are developing 30 or 40 rolls a day.

    I think a leaf blower used as a dryer aybe a cool McGyverism as well :D


     
  7. rjr

    rjr Member

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    Pablo,

    in case of that volume of films, I´d develop them with an ATL automated processor - which takes care of the washing and follows the Ilford guidelines, too.
     
  8. Max Power

    Max Power Member

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    Eric,
    Yup, it fills from the bottom and drains from the top.

    RJR,
    To the question 'why?'...Because, I just don't trust the Ilford method...I'm not sure why, and it's probably not legitimate...But I just don't see how four flushes can compare to 5 - 10 minutes of constant flow (albeit at low pressure).

    Thanks for the link, though, I will definitely check it out.

    Kent

    PS, Titrisol...I gotta try out the leaf-blower idea...The hair-dryer thing is for wimps :D
     
  9. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    The ilford method or anything similar is designed to save water. Just flushing with running water ends up with lots of water that is almost perfectly clean. The Ilford method OTOH tries to make the water work harder.
     
  10. rjr

    rjr Member

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    Well. Birds are heavier than air - so how can they fly? ;-)

    The method is proven to be functional for almost 40 years.

    In short, washing has to do with diffusion and the concentration gradient - the relation between amounts of hypo vs the amount of water in your tank.

    With the Ilford wash, you make sure that there is a steep concentration gradient - you remove all stuff soluted in the water when you pour it out and fill the tank with fresh water.

    And you give the hypo left in the emulsion a chance to move over (diffuse) to the water with that change and that is why you leave the tank untouched for some minutes - and again, it is to be removed with the next change.

    There is a problem with the constant flow in your method - you can´t guarantee that all parts of the film held in the reel are washed equally. In fact you move a LOT of water through that tank without ever passing along the reel and the film, most of it flows along the reel and the grade of diffusion is kept low.

    <reminder: english is not my native tongue. ;-)>
     
  11. Silverpixels5

    Silverpixels5 Member

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    The process of washing film or prints with several water changes works just as well as a running water bath. The concentration of the fixer and its by-products in the paper is going to want to move into the free water of the bath in order to balance things out. After the 3rd or 4th water change, there really isn't much of anything left.
     
  12. dancqu

    dancqu Member

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    The problem with constant flow is it's more laminar nature.
    Eddies are produced which will leave areas of a film's surface
    in 'still' water. That is one of the big problems of archival
    print washers.

    I use the Ilford method but with four washes counting the
    last which has a bit of Photo Flo. Distilled water at ROOM
    temperature is used. For the four 1.5 +/- liters will do.

    It is only the gelatine that needs the wash time and it
    comes clean by way of diffusion. Dan
     
  13. titrisol

    titrisol Member

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    This is a problem of chemical reaction engineering.
    I can;t remember the differential euqations in play here, but you can do a test:

    Wash a glass with a LOT of soap, and suds
    How will the glass be cleaner faster?
    - By using a stream of water for XX minutes
    - or by using 4 or 5 changes of water with 1/2 the volume of the glass???

    Try it and decide yourself
     
  14. GeorgesGiralt

    GeorgesGiralt Member

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    Hi !
    I do agree !
    A French laboratory has made tests for museums trying to define an "archival standard" for washing prints to be sold/stored in museums.
    The prouved that one wash more efficiently by moving prints from a tray of water to a tray of fresh water and repeating 5 times than letting print soak in an archival water, whatever flow rate. They have also shown that the less the prints are in contact wih water, the longer they will keep. They have done their experiment very preciselly and in a complex fashion, because they measured the total amount of hypo left in the paper sheet. They have produced a set of documents for professional printers (I've seen and read them during a printing workshop done by a French renowed (sp ?) printer but forgot to note the reference... Grrr . Laziness, always....
    When young, I've been told to follow the Ilford washing sequence ans can show negatives from the 70's which are fine.... well in this respect, because for artistical matters, ,-)